The Yangtze River Collection

This magnificent collection was assembled by Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt. In February through August of 1993, the collection was on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, Florida. A special full color book was prepared for the collection and its exhibition and many of the objects in this book are being offered today at auction. Later it was featured in Dr. Wall-Apelt’s Museum of Asian Art in Sarasota, Florida. (A copy of this special publication will accompany the following 60 lots from this collection).

In the forward of the book, Robert Fray wrote,

“Between the Chinese jades securely locked away in museum collections and those of nominal quality that come to market, usually at the major auction houses, it is astonishing to find that a private collector can still today assemble a group of jades of the quality of the Yangtze River Collection. The number of museums around the world with jades that could match the brilliance of these pieces can be counted on the fingers of both hands.

For Chinese jades the time period represented by this collection is short, from the Qing Dynasty onward. However, this period has been referred to as the “Pinnacle of Chinese Jade Art” and does reach the heights of decorative carving on both the classical nephrite stones, much used for carving in previous dynasties in China, as well as the more intensely colored jadeite stones that started pouring into China from the mines in Burma during that era.

In the Qing Dynasty the Qianlong Emperor was truly a patron of all facets of Chinese art but he had a particular passion for jade. Not only did he set up jade workshops in the grounds of the Imperial Palace but he also controlled the mining and trading of rough jadestones and made certain, often through military control that the finest pieces came to the Imperial Department for Production. This was first controlled in Beijing but then spread to many other centers for jade carving for both the Emperor and for private collectors. For the Imperial pieces the Emperor himself supervised many of the steps in production ranging the gamut from the selection of the rough stones to be carved all the way to ranking the finished carvings and rendering his opinions about them.

The number of these Imperial pieces in the Yangtze River Collection, some signed by the Qianlong Emperor or one of his successors, makes this exhibition unique. Many of the other jade carvings in this Collection were undoubtedly made for private collectors during the Qing Dynasty and later and we are fortunate to be able to see them as well today in this outstanding private collection”.

The text of this book was prepared by Daphne Lang Rosenzweig, with technical notes prepared by Abraham Rosenzweig. In her introduction, Ms. Rosenzweig states,

“The appreciation of jade is not solely a Chinese phenomenon. There are many foreign connoisseurs of Chinese jade carvings, and serious collections focused on certain eras or types have been formed in the twentieth century both in Europe and America. Classic volumes from the early part of this century as well as a number of recent publications have drawn attention to collections located in major museums. Our understanding of the historical development of Chinese jade carving and the mineralogy of the materials which constitute the “jade” category has been substantially advanced in recent years by serious discussions of these subjects based on personal analysis by experts in art history and geology, as well as archeological and archival discoveries.

This catalogue, The Yangtze River Collection, – Later Chinese Jades, introduces a heretofore unknown collection, formed by a private European collector now living in the United States. The collection is distinguished by the relatively large scale and perfection of form represented by many of the pieces, and the range of types included. There are some rarities not always easy to establish. Although certain periods have been suggested for almost every work, the opportunity exists for other opinions to be offered on the problematic issue.

I have attempted to avoid repetition of aspects of jade carving, mineralogy, “period style” and collection fully explored in other recent publications. Interested readers desiring more information about those matters are referred to the new volume titled Jade, edited by Roger Keverne and other publications cited in the SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY section which appears at the end of this catalogue. The pinyin Romanization system has been used for transcription of Chinese into English in this text. Full citations for authors and books noted in the text are listed in the SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY section. The text has been divided into five chapters, by object type.”

We are very pleased to offer the objects from this wonderful collection and in each case, have utilized the exact descriptions originally prepared for the book.